Spain is primarily considered to be a summer holiday destination, with British holiday makers most prominently flocking to the Mediterranean in the July-August period. What many do not realise however, is that Spain is just as beautiful in the winter months. The climate remains warm, and it does not carry that same scorching heat from the sun; largely due to the overcast skies and cool coastland breezes.
Whether you are looking to escape a traditional family Christmas, or wish to experience an unusual winter warmth, here are ten of the most attractive Spanish winter destinations.
1. Granada/Sierra Nevada
Located only slightly inland from the south coast, Granada and the Sierra Nevada mountains offer an interesting variation for visitors looking to pack their trip with exciting activities. The city of Granada plays host to the stunning Byzantine architecture of the Alhambra, and the tight, spindling streets in Albayzin. The mountains of Sierra Nevada, however, are the ideal location for skiing and winter sports. The glow of the sun shining down upon the glistening snow makes for an awesome view in this region of Spain.
Granada is located 140km from Malaga airport, making it an uncommon tourist destination. Flights and accommodation are much cheaper in the winter months, so the region remains tranquil and relaxed.
The Spanish capital of Madrid offers a holiday for those looking to experience a busy, culturally rich city at the height of winter. Its Christmas Markets offer a perfect excuse to take a trip there, with a shopping spree an inevitable outcome. For thrill seekers, the elaborate New Year’s Eve celebrations exemplify the welcoming party atmosphere of España. Madrid’s mix of classical gothic and modern architecture make it the perfect blend of traditional and contemporary culture.
Madrid has its own airport, making transport a simple commute. Be sure to pay a visit to Sobrino de Botín whilst in the Spanish capital; this is the oldest restaurant in the world, and its revered menu reflects its centuries of experience.
3. Costa del Sol
Although very popular as a summer tourist destination, the Costa del Sol remains beautiful in the winter due to its mountainous perimeter blocking out cold gusts. Winter temperatures will commonly reach highs of 17ºC — hotter than the average temperature of a British summer. It is no surprise that Costa del Sol remains a popular tourist destination all-year-round, although it is much less populated in the winter. While the region is renowned for its nightlife, its white-sanded beaches and chilled atmosphere can be enjoyed by those simply looking for a mid-winter relaxation period. If the nightlife does take your fancy however, Astral Cocktail Bar in Marbella is one of the most popular bars in the region — for good reason! Located right on the coast, its vast selection of fruit based tipples will set the bar for your holiday.
The quaint city of Seville is recognised for its beautiful architecture and traditional Spanish culture. It is located in the Andalusia region, and is developed around Real Alcázar de Sevilla: a stunning royal palace complex. Seville remains warm throughout the seasons, with residents so confident of its pleasant climate that many reject the idea of central heating!
The region is famed for its Three Kings Festival: the traditional Spanish icons of Christmas, as well as its hosting of bullfighting, which is held in the magnificent Seville Plaza de Toros. For lovers of nightlife, Seville is also famous for its Flamenco dancing, with many Spanish dance clubs rolling into all hours of the night filled with passionate dancers and glorious music.
Located in the Catalonia region of Spain, Barcelona’s rich history boasts triumphs in architecture, competitive sport, and culture. While the city can become very hot and overcrowded in the summer, the winter months allow you to enjoy a cooler, more relaxed, and cheaper environment with plenty of exciting events to enjoy.
The Fira de Santa Llúcia is a traditional Christmas fair which features more than 300 stalls selling handcrafted festive trinkets and gifts, themed around the famous Nativity scene. Barcelona also features a plethora of delectable restaurants such as Cera 23, which specialises in Mediterranean cuisine, and Restaurant Arume, the definitive tapas restaurant.
6. The Canary Islands
A beautiful winter destination, the Canary Islands barely cool down from December to February, hovering around the 18°C mark. The islands of Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, and Tenerife all feature gorgeous beaches, ideal for relaxation, or if you consider yourself an adventurer, snorkelling and diving.
The gigantic Volcan El Teide on Tenerife is the tallest natural structure in Spain, and one of the largest volcanos in the world. The Timanfaya National Park is also a marvellous natural landscape, as well as the Playa de Papagayo, a beautiful natural cove with a very exclusive beach area. The Canary Islands are the perfect scenic destination.
The historical city of Bilbao, located in the proud Basque region, will prove to be a haven for those interested in art, pioneering design, and Spain’s unique culture. While the area is cool in the winter period, the temperature rarely drops below 12ºC, making Bilbao a welcoming temperate climate.
The world famous Bilbao Fine Arts Museum bears a comprehensive collection of art ranging from the Middle Ages to modern day, featuring revered works such as ‘St. Sebastian cured by the Holy Women’. The strikingly designed Guggenheim Museum is also a must-see, as it is considered one of Europe’s finest modern buildings.
The Andalusian city of Cordoba is unique in that it consists primarily of Roman and Islamic architecture, beautifully preserved to resemble a town that time forgot. Once the most populated city in the world, Cordoba’s iconic Mosque-Cathedral remains one of the city’s most prominent tourist attractions.
For those looking for a vibrant holiday experience, the Tablao Flamenco Cardenal is a popular bar/dance club where traditional Spanish music is paired with traditional Spanish dancing — to great effect! The Carnival of Cordoba, where singers parade through the streets in bright coloured costumes, takes place in the second week in February — just as winter draws to a close.
Toledo is known as the ‘Imperial City’ due to its blend of cultures. Christian, Muslim, and Jewish influences can be observed in the city’s architecture; the variation in style between the marvellous Cathedral of Toledo, and the equally stunning Alcantara bridge being just one example. The winter climate in Toledo can get quite chilly, but generally remains pleasant — far better than northern Europe, at very least.
The Alqahira Rincón de Oriente restaurant is extremely popular with both visitors and locals for its mixture of Mediterranean and Arabic food and stunning interior décor. Toledo is a city that takes its cultural heritage very seriously, and this is reflected in the wonderful bars, restaurants, and gardens dotted around this proud city.
The city of Murcia is located in the south-east of Spain, and is the seventh largest city in the country. Operating primarily as a modern University town, Murcia is a hotbed of culture and celebration. The Cathedral of Murcia is a joyous and sophisticated mix of architectural styles, and set against the backdrop of lush-green mountains, it is an absolute must-see when in this region of Spain.
The striking Sanctuary of the Virgin of the Fuensanta is a beautiful and original church, often populated by the region’s most faithful clergymen. Spanish winter festivals are just as exuberant as their summer counterparts, and are celebrated all the way through December in Murcia. What’s more, the temperature remains high throughout the winter, meaning that the heat can be enjoyed while your friends are stuck back home in the cold.
Whether you’re a lone traveller, part of a couple, travelling with friends or family; Spain is a marvellous country with a huge variation of cultures and styles in between each region. Your Spanish winter holiday can be tailored specifically for you based upon the information we have provided, with the Mediterranean country offering something for everyone.